Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Apple's iTunes Festival: It's a business for the bands

September 4, 2013: 8:23 AM ET

By Jim Dalrymple, London 

Photo: Jim Dalrymple

Photo: Jim Dalrymple

FORTUNE -- Earlier this week I talked about Apple's (AAPL) motivation for putting on the iTunes Festival in London every year. As I attended more shows this week, I realized there was also a business side to festival—but it's more for the bands than for Apple.

In my article Monday, I said that Apple puts on the festival to show people that music still matters to it as a company, especially as more consumers identify Apple with the apps on their iPhones and iPads. My initial thoughts appear to be correct, at least from Apple's point of view.

"The iTunes Festival is a great way for us to share our love of music with our customers with free tickets for 30 nights of incredible music," Oliver Schusser, senior director, iTunes International, told me. "Plus, it gives artists exposure to millions of iTunes customers around the world who can view the live streams on their iOS devices and Apple TV."

The second part of what Schusser said is key. Even if the iTunes Festival were only a free local event, bands would still want to be a part of it. The concerts are streamed to millions of viewers around the world -- just the kind of exposure that can kickstart a musician's career.

The evidence of what the opportunity means for a band could be seen on the Festival stage. Phox, Tuesday night's opening act, thanked iTunes for the opportunity again and again. Even the night's headliners, The Lumineers, thanked Apple. Everyone knows how important this is.

A successful performance at the iTunes Festival can mean a huge increase in sales for the band. I know people on my Twitter feed who hadn't heard of Phox before but bought their album after watching the band on Apple TV. A twitter feed isn't an indictor of sales, but it does show how much people liked the show, and that's what the musicians want.

I spoke with Bill Lonero, lead guitarist for San Jose-based rock band Lonero, about iTunes Festival and what it means for a band. Lonero has never played the festival, but as a musician with several albums to his credit, he sees the benefits. Being aligned with Apple, promoted alongside Apple, then playing the festival and being streamed around the world is huge for bands big or small.

"There is no downside to being part of the iTunes Festival," he says.

BIO: Jim Dalrymple is the founder of The Loop and has been reporting on Apple for nearly 20 years.

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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